New team for Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre
by Jenny Barrett.
Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre is on schedule to host its first event in October 2020. Whilst the initial vision was firmly geared towards restoring Christchurch’s business event market to its former glory, the AV industry has been cautiously watching developments over the last two years to see if the ASM Global (formally AEG Ogden) managed convention centre would remain as committed to seeking resources locally.
‘Te Pae Christchurch’ – local meeting place or outsourced opportunity?
Ōtākaro, a crown company delivering the central city ‘Anchor Projects’ identified by the Government following the Canterbury earthquakes, is overseeing the design and construction of Te Pae Christchurch, pronounced ‘te pie’.
In February 2019, Ōtākaro appointed ASM Global (then AEG Ogden) to manage Te Pae Christchurch, keen to tap into ASM Global’s international network. Whilst welcoming the progress, this appointment also sent shivers down the spine of local audio-visual businesses who had pulled together in the aftermath of the earthquake, forming new partnerships to survive in the venue deprived city.
They feared that opportunities might be outsourced nationally, or even internationally, and valuable staff could be lost to whoever picked up the AV contracts.
The recent merger of AEG Ogden with SMG into ASM Global renders Te Pae Christchurch part of an even larger international entity.
GM: from Cairns to Christchurch
Ross Steele, appointed General Manager in March, is eager to reassure the local industry of his commitment to the economic regeneration of Christchurch. He brings an impressive record of regional economic development, latterly serving 12 years as General Manager of Cairns Convention Centre.
Under his watch, Cairns was ranked number one in the world by the Association of International Congress Centres in 2004 and 2014 and is in Queensland Tourism’s Hall of Fame for winning the Business Events category three years running.
He left on a high, responsible for securing $176m for an extension and refurbishment of the venue which is due to start in May 2020.
Ross sees the new convention centre presenting Christchurch with a wealth of opportunity, “Purpose-built for the most modern city in New Zealand, Te Pae Christchurch is a key focal point of Christchurch’s regeneration.”
“Located at the heart of what is already becoming a thriving entertainment precinct, Te Pae Christchurch will provide a social hub for local residents, and position the region as a world-class conference destination, bringing with it opportunities for economic growth, innovation, knowledge sharing and social change for years to come.”
He is very aware of the negative impact that the lack of a major convention centre has had on the city, “ChristchurchNZ estimates the Canterbury region is missing out on $90 million annually in economic benefits from the business events market.
“Studies have shown that business event travellers typically spend twice that of leisure travellers, and often they will bring family and spend time touring locally or nationally, either before or after their event. That is thousands of dollars per person that could potentially benefit small business owners in and around the city.”
Reviving the regional AV sector
Ross is equally as attune to the negative impact the dearth of venues has had on the entertainment technology and audio-visual sectors, “We are committed to working with local suppliers and local education institutes to innovate and grow the sector here in Christchurch, and in the wider region.
“That may be through working with local businesses for specific events and theming opportunities or providing opportunities for training for those looking to start a career in the AV sector.”
Tapping into the local scene will be a whole lot easier now that a new AV Production Manager has been appointed. Christchurch resident Jake Eastwood joins Te Pae Christchurch with several years’ experience in the events production and technology industry.
Previous to this role, he was the Events Manager for Spectrum Lighting and Sound – a local technical lighting and sound services firm. Jake was also an Event Technician at The Light Site, a Christchurch-based theatre and event lighting company.
Ross sees an important part of Jake’s role to be liaison with local suppliers, “Jake will oversee Te Pae Christchurch’s team of technicians, event coordinators and lighting and sound designers. He will be working alongside experts from across the local industry to ensure clients’ technology requirements are met to the highest possible standard.”
Catalyst for skilled staff
In terms of recruitment, Ross’s view is that rather than poaching from the current stretched pool of technical operators, Te Pae Christchurch will act as an incentive for skilled staff to return to Christchurch from elsewhere in New Zealand and overseas, “While Te Pae Christchurch has a focus on recruiting locally, it has also been the catalyst for several talented New Zealanders returning to the region from overseas, as well as from throughout New Zealand.
“They have seen the potential of Te Pae Christchurch and want to share the skills they have picked up to benefit the city and their community.”
As AV Production Manager, Jake will also play an integral role in growing the local skills base by engaging with the city’s IT suppliers and technology education providers – partnering with education institutes to provide opportunities for the next generation.
Te Pae Christchurch, as part of an international network of venues, will also provide stronger career pathways, “The international reach and ‘global meets local’ approach of ASM Global provides a host of opportunities for career advancement across all our permanent and casual staff, through knowledge sharing and networking, which is a valuable tool for anyone looking to develop their career.
“This applies to staff currently working in other venues who may be able to assist in the short or long term or new team members looking to join Te Pae Christchurch.”
The merger of AEG Ogden and SMG into ASM Global means that Te Pae Christchurch will be able to draw from an even deeper pool of global experience and knowledge, but Ross is keen to reiterate that the Te Pae Christchurch team still has a tight hold of the reigns, “Te Pae Christchurch is operated by a local team based here in Christchurch and the merger does not affect the day to day running of the business.”
What’s On Te Pae Christchurch’s Radar?
The first event on 15th-17th October 2020 will be the Christchurch-based New Zealand College of Midwives, significant for a local organisation being able to host their first national conference in the South Island for more than 10 years.
It will be followed by Te Pae Christchurch’s first major international event, the International Association of Ecology (INTECOL) 11th International Wetlands Conference, which will bring around 1000 delegates to the city.
And then the Grand Ford Mustang Show, a feature event of the 2020 National Mustang Convention will take place over Labour weekend 2020.
Te Pae Christchurch’s new Business Development team are also currently working on over a hundred other events. They are supported by Te Pae Christchurch’s research team who, with assistance from ASM Global, are also working on sourcing events that support universities and ChristchurchNZ growth industries and super nodes.
Many events have a long lead time, often booking 2-3 years in advance, so the team are working across a significant time span, with bookings for 2020, 2021 and 2022 being confirmed. Hopefully all bringing a wealth of business to Christchurch’s entertainment technology and audio-visual sector.
To see the progress of work, build to date and an artists animation of the centre, please check out these vimeo links.